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Adorno and Genealogy

Stegeman, E; (2017) Adorno and Genealogy. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The history of genealogical arguments reveals why they are not philosophically popular today. They are prone to many well-known problems such as the genetic fallacy, the tendency to go globally relativistic and the chance to undermine their own position. Nonetheless, genealogical accounts are championed by the masters of suspicion, whose use of them is vital for their projects. Theodor W. Adorno also clearly relies on them in his critique of society and its ideology. The aim of my thesis is to i) distinguish the diff erent forms of genealogical argument, ii) reconstruct Adorno’s arguments in light of these distinctions, and iii) arrive at an evaluation of the force and interconnectedness of Adorno’s genealogical arguments. Specifi cally, I will argue in Chapter One that we ultimately cannot read Adorno in terms of our contemporary epistemological genealogies. His critique does not undermine our ideological beliefs but it gives us an indication of why they might be false. Chapter Two uses these indications to dig deeper into the historical genealogies of our concepts. There is a non-fallacious form of this genealogy that Adorno holds but its normative power is limited. Chapter Three builds on the naturalist account initiated in Chapter One, and vindicates Adorno’s use of genealogical arguments by showing that his philosophy is not methodologically but still ontologically naturalistic: it might be fact-defective but not law-defective. Chapter Four details a third type of genealogy that debunks our forms of consciousness (not merely our beliefs or our concepts) according to their constitutive connection to a form of functioning. Only this functional genealogy makes sense of Adorno’s immanent critique, his quasi-dialetheism, the principle of abundance and the seemingly fallacious imputation of function in history. The account of self-refl exivity given there provides an alternative to its ethical interpretation.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Adorno and Genealogy
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1566597
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